Albemarle County is a special place with rich historic value, vibrant tourism, plentiful opportunities for recreation, and unmatched natural beauty and quality of life. Residents of our area benefit from exceptional schools, outstanding opportunities for higher education and state-of-the-art healthcare systems. A lesser-known asset in our community is the thriving defense sector that calls Albemarle County home.
This spring, the Defense Affairs Committee (DAC) of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce met with community members at North Fork to share the positive impact on economic development and contributions to the community that the defense sector brings to Albemarle County. The event, sponsored by Albemarle County and the University of Virginia Foundation, gave the community the opportunity to hear firsthand from a distinguished panel of federal government and private and public sector representatives. The panelists included James Scofield, Senior Advisor with National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC)/Rivanna Station; Colonel Randy Swansiger, Chief of Staff of the Army JAG Legal Center & School; James Garrett, Ph.D., CEO of Luna Labs; Rob Jones, Director of National Security Programs of the UVA Office of the Vice President for Research; Andrew Fraser, Director, Integration & Ship Services at Northrop Grumman/ Mission Systems and Barry Johnston, Vice President with Booz Allen and the event was moderated Roger Johnson, Director of Albemarle County’s Office of Economic Development.
"A lesser-known asset in our community is the thriving defense sector that calls Albemarle County home."
The panel discussed how much the defense sector affects the success of all enterprises and industries in our area, including hotels and restaurants, retail, professional services, health care, real estate, and more. More pointedly, with over 2,900 employees in the field locally, the Defense Sector contributes an impressive $700 million to our regional economy.
In addition to the obvious financial benefit stemming from the defense sector’s presence in our area, its employees and their families are active members of the community, acting as little league coaches, Scout leaders, and valuable school and non-profit volunteers who live, work and invest in Albemarle County every day.
“The Defense Sector is a critical component of economic development in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the broader region. But the impact of that investment extends far beyond defense applications,” said James Garrett, CEO of Luna Labs USA. “The intellectual and capital resources brought to the area to meet the needs of the defense sector are also contributing to health sciences, green energy, and sustainable materials. The impact of the defense sector should be viewed as a multiplier effect across many industries.”
Retaining and supporting this pillar of the local economy is important to the community’s vitality. This industry attracts highly-skilled professionals to the area, resulting in high-paying jobs. Another benefit is the thousands of visitors annually that this sector attracts to the county.
To maintain the strength of the industry, the panelists reinforced the need for students to participate in STEM-based curriculums and shared their interest in supporting educational programming and opportunities for middle and high school students. Albemarle County is committed to supporting this industry that contributes to our continued high quality of life.
For more information on the Defense Affairs Committee
Contact Colonel Lettie J. Bien (USA, Retired), DAC Program Manager, at DAC@cvillechamber.com or the Albemarle County Office of Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.